Should Bush Apologize for Torture?

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Proving once again that, on the subject of torture, he is America’s most important public intellectual (even though he’s British), Andrew Sullivan asks former President Bush to atone for the abuses that occured during his presidency. The editors of The Atlantic, to their great credit, put Sullivan’s “open letter” on the cover.

It seems obvious that only something of the magnitude of Bush himself publicly apologizing for torture can return torture to what it once was: a non-political issue that’s not open for debate. It’s surprising that no one’s suggested it before. Like a lot of the ideas Sullivan has, it only seems obvious after he’s explained it. Anyway, money quote:

The point of this letter, Mr. President, is to beg you to finally take responsibility for this stain on American honor and this burden on a war we must win. It is to plead with you to own what happened under your command, and to reject categorically the phony legalisms, criminal destruction of crucial evidence, and retrospective rationalizations used to pretend that none of this happened. It happened. You once said, “I’m worried about a culture that says … ‘If you’ve got a problem blame somebody else.'” I am asking you to stop blaming others for the consequences of decisions you made.

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If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you’ll agree is worth supporting.

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